Of all the nations in Asia, none have a cloak of mystique surrounding them quite like Bhutan. Having deliberately kept western influences to a minimum, emphasizing collective happiness as a national priority, and with cultural attractions and stunning mountain scenery binding it all together, there is no other place in the region like it.
However, one just anyone can visit this Buddhist gem – to keep the effects of mass tourism at bay, tours MUST be booked by any visitor to the country. The cost of hiring these guides is kept artificially high to keep out the detritus of the travel world, ensuring that this blissful highland nation doesn’t turn into another glorified Khao San Road.
Since costs like these is no object to someone of your stature though, let’s focus on something far more important: seeing the sights and having experiences that are core to the identity of the nation of Bhutan. The following attractions and activities will ensure that you get the best possible ROI for your travel dollar when booking your Bhutan tour.
This attraction will require the most sweat out of any of the sights that you see in Bhutan, so do make sure that you bring shoes that can cushion your feet adequately during the five hour return hike (e.g. sneakers or hiking boots).
The journey out to Taktsang Monastery (also known as Tiger’s Nest) is done on horse back, and it will skirt along the side of a mountain, granting unreal views of the terrain that will lie before you. The monastery itself, aside from being a truly epic sight to behold, is one of the places where Guru Padmasambhava mediated in Bhutan, who is the religious figure in Buddhism that brought the religion to the country.
Being the center of the Bhutanese administration in the capital Thimphu, Tashichho Dzong is an impressive combination of a temple, palace and fortress all in one. Normally, this place is off limit foreigners, but visitors are permitted to view highly stylized Changing Of The Guard, which takes place for one hour each day, usually from 4 to 5 in the afternoon.
Attend a Tshechu
Once a year, monasteries and dzongs across the country will put on a joyous festival to celebrate the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava, usually on the 10th day of whatever given lunar month it happens to be. This fact makes these parties very accessible to the foreign tourist, as different communities celebrate the Tshechu at different times. Include one in your itinerary and enjoy the traditional dances and the clothing that gets busted out for this special occasion.
National Museum of Bhutan
Finally, make time to see the National Museum of Bhutan before departing the country. Visiting this institution will fill in the blanks between all the experiences that you will have during the course of your explorations of this amazing country.